This is not the kind of shutout Angels fans were looking for.
Talented free agents have been flying off the board and major trades have been consummated in the week since the 99-day lockout ended, but the Angels, still in need of a front-line starting pitcher and bullpen depth, have been unable to add one impact player so far. And followers of the club are growing impatient.
“I totally understand [their frustration] — I’m a fan, too,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said Wednesday. “I understand when you’re watching and hoping and expecting things to happen quick. All I can say is I feel like we’ve improved from last year. We added some significant pieces in the offseason.
“I know there’s some ‘what-have-you-done-for-me-lately,’ but we like where we’re at. Now, can we get better? Definitely. There are areas we can improve. The rotation, bullpen spots we’d like to improve. Offensively, defensively, we’d like to improve.”
The Angels were one of baseball’s more aggressive teams before the lockout, signing free-agent starters Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen and reliever Aaron Loup in November.
But a setback in Griffin Canning’s rehabilitation from a back injury that will prevent the right-hander from throwing off a mound for about a month put a dent in their rotation depth, and the bullpen thins out considerably after closer Raisel Iglesias, Loup and setup man Mike Mayers.
The free-agent starting pitching market has been hollowed out, with the top arms signing elsewhere, but there are several veteran relievers available who could help. There are also two big-name free-agent shortstops — Carlos Correa and Trevor Story — who would be huge additions to the lineup.
“We’re looking for the right fits, the right opportunities,” Minasian said. “There are certain things we’ve targeted that we’re still working on.”
What are the chances of the Angels acquiring an impact player or two?
“We’ll find out,” Minasian said. “You don’t know. It’s hard to predict. We’ve had a lot of conversations, a lot of dialogue. Sometimes you feel they’re going the right way and sometimes you gotta make a U-turn.”
The Angels already have about $190 million committed to their luxury-tax payroll for 2022. Owner Arte Moreno was reportedly one of four owners who, in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, voted against raising the first luxury tax threshold behind the $220-million mark.
But Minasian said if the Angels are unable to add impact players, it won’t be because of budget constraints.
“I have no limitations,” he said. “It’s what makes sense in the short-term and long-term, balancing the now with two, three, four years from now. We have the ability to add. This is an ownership that is committed to winning. I have not been told no on anything. If the right opportunity presents itself, they really want to win.”